photo by NeoNBRAND
You hear a lot of trepidation out on the internet when the question of buying a used computer comes up. It seems that most articles don't recommend it. The fact is that you can easily make a mistake. But as you make yourself more knowledgeable, your risk goes down. The risk never goes away completely, but you can learn what to look for and what to avoid. But why risk it? The reason is simple, the right used computer can be a really great buy.
So, what kind of savings are we talking? Let me put it this way. Around February of 2016, I bought a perfectly functional Dell Latitude E6500 in very good condition (just a few barely noticeable wear marks on the lid) on ebay for $55, including shipping. The new price in 2008 was something like $1200. That's a savings of 95%. And I've been using it nearly every day since for most of my internet surfing and movie watching. Admittedly, the battery didn't have a lot of life left in it, but it was still functional, with maybe an hour of use on a full charge. Still, I replaced it for only $20. I don't use the battery much, but I just wanted a new one anyway. Aside from the battery, it has continued to work perfectly for 31 months now. The reason I bought it was that I was looking for a cheap, yet high quality, reasonably rugged, versatile laptop with lots of ports (I like ports) that was capable of easily surfing the internet without freezing up (thanks to its Core 2 Duo T9600 CPU, the fastest Core 2 Duo available). Other than my work laptop, the rest of my laptops were all single core processors, and they just weren't cutting it anymore on the internet. This is just one success story of many. In fact, I can't recall regretting buying a used laptop. That's not true for the handful of new computers that I've bought--one of which died after only six months of light use. That's the last time I'll buy a fanless PC. I strongly suspect that it just burned up.
Since the effective death of Moore's law back around 2011 or 2012, used computers have been looking better and better. Since they don't become obsolete nearly as quickly now, and prices seem just as good for used computers as they've always been, as far as I'm concerned, the incentive to buy a used computer is huge. I don't see why more people aren't jumping at opportunities for buying used, high-quality laptops that may have another three to five years of life left in them for as little as 5% of what they would have cost new. But the fact is that, judging by the continuing low prices, many people just aren't jumping. That's good news for you and me, because we know to jump.
With these low prices, there is now no good reason for a reasonably knowledgeable person, regardless of his current financial circumstances, to be unable to afford a great used laptop. With prices for similar quality new laptops between one and two thousand dollars, the same cannot be said for them. It's true that a much newer laptop may be 50% or more faster, but if you don't need the speed, at the low prices of used laptops, you can even make a mistake or two and still come out significantly ahead financially.
One more thing that used laptops have going for them is that you can still find a thicker one. This means fewer thermal throttling issues, more ports, those now impossible-to-find expansion slots, and even DVD writers! Your upgrade options may be relatively limited via expansion card slots, due to the older technology, but they still often exist--especially if you bought a laptop with SD card, PCMCIA, and/or ExpressCard slots. My Dell Latitude E6500 has all three, not to mention a DVD writer/player. But if you plan on buying new PCMCIA or ExpressCard cards, you'ld probably better hurry. They may not be around much longer. But don't forget that you can still expand using USB ports--although they'll be USB 2.0.
To summarize--there are a lot of great deals right now on used
computers. So, if you know what you're doing and are willing to
take a risk, you can find a great deal.
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